Warnings/spoilers/etc: see pt 1

Eleanor Cregg - mine. Everyone else - Sorkin's.

-----

The next day began with C.J. in a foul mood. She came in after a
terrible night's sleep, and the day began to go downhill almost
immediately. The only good thing was Fenton's performance at the
hearings. The man looked impeccable. Sam or whoever must have
prepared him well, because Fenton deflected every question that was
tossed his way. Of course, C.J. reflected snidely, Sam *hadn't* come
home the previous night. He'd had other things to do.

She buried herself in the files for the new Solar Energy Commission.
It still lacked four senators, which of course would have to be
debated and argued upon. Yet more things she really couldn't deal
with. As she debated, an authoritative knock came on her door.

C.J. pushed her glasses up to pinch the bridge of her nose. It was
8:30 am and she already had a sneaking suspicion that this day would
not be good. "Come in?"

She was a bit surprised to see Leo open the door. "C.J., you got a
minute?"

"Yeah, what's going on?" What *was* going on? And why did Leo avoid
her eyes and stare at the floor like a kid caught putting tacks on
the teacher's chair?

He got right to the point, in characteristic fashion, finally looking
into her eyes. "C.J., this is a little weird, I know, but... I'd like
to ask your mother out some night, and I wanted to run it by you
first."

As quickly as she could, C.J. regained her composure, though she knew
for one second a look of pure, unadulterated fear had shot across her
face. Was he crazy? He, Leo McGarry, her untouchable boss, date
Eleanor Cregg, her mother? It was insane. She had always thought of
Leo as the Chief of Staff, who had an ex-wife and grown daughter. Not
as a man who might be lonely, or need companionship. It was very
weird. However, she couldn't say that out loud.

Thus when she spoke, it was completely calm, with a tone of mild
bemusement. "Well, Leo, you'd have to talk to her. I learned long ago
never to speak for my mother."

"But you don't mind?" Damn the man, he was at the point like a dog to
a bone.

C.J. sighed inwardly. She should expect nothing less. "No, Leo; go
ahead."

"Fine." Leo shot her a minute smile. "That's all I wanted to know."
And with that he strode out of the office, calling over his
shoulder, "Senior staff in an hour!"

The meeting was now officially the *last* thing on C.J.'s mind. Work
forgotten or tossed aside, she perched in her desk chair, thinking.
This was weird. Potentially bizarre. Potentially disastrous. As much
as she respected and liked him, C.J. couldn't exactly see Leo as her
mother's boyfriend. And what Sam would say she could only imagine.
Having Leo in his family circle was something he'd determined to
avoid.

But the kicker was, she couldn't say anything about it! Both Leo and
Eleanor would be extremely pissed, C.J. knew, if she deigned to
interfere in their love lives. Her mother could take care of herself,
and she knew Leo wasn't exactly Don Juan. But still...

C.J.'s ruminations were interrupted again by a knock, this time a
soft tap. "C.J.?"

"What, Carol?"

"Toby's here to see you."

C.J. furrowed her brow. "I thought he was in California."

"Got in this morning." That was Toby's voice. "Can I come in?"

"Sure." Her door opened, and Toby entered, flinging his briefcase
onto her couch. "So, have you been doing anything with the SEC?"

"Not really; the confirmation hearings have been occupying my time."
C.J. told him about the problems, and also about her mother.

Toby's eyebrows rose a fraction, but otherwise he gave no indication
of being surprised or otherwise put out. "Okay," he said. "I hate to
cause another problem –"

"No, you don't," C.J. interrupted. It was true. The more crises there
were, the more Toby shone. It was his most irritating habit.

Toby ignored her, though. "Anyway. Abramson is one of the candidates
for a seat on the SEC."

C.J. frantically flipped through her lists. "What! How could I have
missed that!?"

"It was just decided." Toby stared at her grimly. "You can't move
anything against the Senator until the SEC is decided. Otherwise the
commission will start off on a very unstable basis, and won't get
anything done, as opposed to the very little we'd get otherwise."

C.J.'s throat tightened. "Great." She turned away momentarily,
thinking, *What else can go wrong today!?* "Anything I can do?"

"Yeah." Toby's manner became a touch more subdued all of a
sudden. "You need to talk to Danny Concannon."

C.J.'s facial expression stopped just short of exquisite pain. "Why
the hell should I?"

"Because he somehow found out about NovaScotia Corp." Toby's tone was
offhand, but she knew that unless Danny were dealt with more than one
person would be in the shit. "There's supposed to be a story in the
Post on Thursday." It was Tuesday then.

"Damn."

"Yes."

"The confirmation hearings are over on Friday and he can't wait one
more friggin' day."

"Apparently not." Toby couldn't look at her. The entire office knew
the story with C.J., Sam and Danny, and he didn't envy her this task.
But there was simply no one else who might get results.

"I suppose I have to get him to back off."

"Yes."

C.J. gave up the fight and reached for the aspirin bottle in her top
drawer. "Toby, has it occurred to you that he might conceivably tell
me to go to hell?" *As he would have every right to do?* she added
silently.

"Yes." Toby sighed. "That's a chance we have to take."

That was his way of telling her that she was really the only
hope. "Fine."

"Thanks." Toby turned and left, no doubt awaited by a thousand
messages. It cheered C.J. somewhat to know that he was at least as
busy as if not more busy than her.

Carol waited in the doorway. "C.J.?"

"Yeah."

"I don't know if this is the best time for this, but..."

C.J. sighed. "Carol, there's not much that could make this day worse.
So whaddya got for me?"

Her assistant looked at the floor before answering. *What is it?*
C.J. wondered. *Do I look that bad or something?*

Finally Carol answered. "C.J., have you picked your maid of honor
yet?"

C.J. sighed audibly. All her problems were ganging up on her. "No,
Carol, I haven't. You'll be the first to know. I swear." She picked
up the SEC file. "I've gotta talk to Josh. Hold my calls." She made
her way down the hall, suddenly weary. Why was everything ganging up
on her all at once? It wasn't fair.

Outside Josh's office C.J. stopped to talk to Donna. "Hey, how are
you?"

"Not too bad." C.J. lied.

"That's good." Donna lowered her voice. "Your mother annoyed him."

"Really."

"Yeah." Donna told C.J. what Josh had told her of last night's
events. "The thing is," she added, "he's impressed as well as
annoyed."

"Sounds like Josh." C.J. rubbed her temples absentmindedly. Yet
another question with her mother. "Is he in, though, Donna?"

"Yeah, he's winding up with the Russian ambassador. Give him a
minute."

"Okay."

The two women sat at Donna's cubicle, C.J. perched on the edge of the
desk. This, she thought, was good. She'd talk to Josh about the
commission. He'd fix it, and make it no longer her problem. Yeah,
then she'd only have a thousand problems, instead of a thousand and
one.

Donna, of course, was oblivious to all this. "Hey, C.J.?" she piped
up.

"Yeah?"

The question was one of the few she hadn't wanted to hear. "Have you
decided about your maid of honor yet?"

"No!" The explosion was unlooked for and thus doubly surprising.
Donna looked as though she'd just run over a puppy, though, and C.J.
calmed down almost as quickly as she'd lost her temper. "Donna, I'm
sorry, I really am. It's just that today is really not the day to ask
me that. Okay?"

"All right." Donna found her voice. Guardedly she said, "I didn't
mean to upset you –"

"It's all right." Thankfully Josh's door opened at that moment, and
C.J. had to turn her mind to work. Otherwise, she told herself, she'd
go completely insane.

 

Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown - 9


 

 

 

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